New York Nanny Accuses Socialite Family of Keeping Her in ‘Slave-Like’ Conditions
The New York Post reports that a nanny from Chile has filed suit against the family she worked with, alleging that they forced her to live in ‘slave-like conditions.’
Felicitas del Carmen Villanueva Garnica is suing the family for allegedly bringing her to the United States on an illegal passport, paying her less than $2 an hour, and allowing the family’s children to beat her. The couple, Malu Edwards and Micky Hurley, deny the allegations.
Garnica says she met the socialite couple in Chile in December 2010, when she was assigned to their family by an employment agency. The couple is well known in Chilean society. Edwards is a descendant of a Chilean diplomat and publisher. Her interior designer husband is related to Chile's founding settlers.
In the formal suit she filed last week, the 52-year-old former nanny alleged that the couple promised that if she would accompany them from Chile to America, she would be given a $10 per hour paycheck, health benefits, food, clothing, and lodging.
Garnica alleges that when they arrived in New York, everything changed. The children grew violent and the couple refused to feed her adequately, although they were regulars at famous restaurants and spent a lot of money on themselves.
Instead, she said the family paid her $800 a month for working 12-hour days (around $2 an hour) and routinely locked her inside their Upper East Side apartment. Garnica also alleges that one of the children hit her with a chair, while the other slammed her head in the refrigerator.
To escape, Garnica contacted Safe Horizon, a nonprofit victim's group. She didn’t leave until a month afterwards when one of the children allegedly slammed her head in the fridge. According to a New York Magazine profile of the family, they all spent the following summer traveling throughout Europe.
According to the Post, the state Department of Labor ordered the couple to pay Garnica over $6,000 in back wages in July 2011.